Michael Mahlon Mullin, a research biologist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and undergraduate professor at UCSD, died Dec. 19, 2000, in La Jolla of complications following surgery. He was 63.
Mullin was a husband, father, grandfather and administrator and leaves a legacy rich with the pursuit of ethics and academia.
His research over the past 36 years at Scripps has included the study of phytoplankton, zooplankton and larval fish in the marine food web.
Colleagues closest to him described Mullin as carrying a quiet and compassionate demeanor. Professor Paul K. Dayton co-taught an upper-division marine ecology class with Mullin.
³He was a quiet man with a genuine passion for science,² Dayton said. ³Yet he was quick to point out that mere passion is not adequate. The lasting memory that he leaves was his emphasis that science can never be subordinate to morals.²
Professor Robert Hessler reiterated Dayton¹s feelings on Mullin¹s strong moral fiber.
³He was an unusually fine person with a strong sense of social obligation that was truly admirable,² Hessler said. ³He took his jobs because of their importance.²
Dayton and Hessler also spoke of Mullin¹s respect for nature, harmony and the educational process. Mullin¹s conspicuous commitment to the undergraduate instillment of knowledge proved to be his most prominent academic feature.
Because the Scripps Institution of Oceanography is a graduate program at UCSD, professors of the institution are under no commitment to teach undergraduate classes.
Yet Mullin believed that information should be made available to undergraduates as well. Associate professor Douglas H. Bartlett confirmed this.
³He was a real gentleman, an effective administrator and deeply interested in reaching out to undergraduate students. He made the commitment to making the trip up the hill.²
Mullin was the author of over 70 scientific publications, including his own book ³Webs and Scales.² He also served as chief editor of the scientific journal ³Fisheries Oceanography.²
Mullin was also a noted and effective administrator at Scripps, serving as chairman of the graduate department, associate director, director of the Marine Life Research Group, and associate dean of academic affairs.
During alternating summers he was a visiting professor at the Friday Harbor Laboratories at the University of Washington.
Born in Galveston, Texas, on Nov. 17, 1937 to Joseph and Alma Mullin, Mullin displayed an early propensity toward science. He received his earliest education at the Laboratory School at the University of Chicago, where his father was a professor. The school enabled Mullin to find a fast trajectory to learning. His brilliance was seen early on.
Brilliance, noted Director of the Scripps Institution of Oceanogra-phy Charles F. Kennel, that never subsided.
³The early brilliance was never lost,² Kennel said. ³He only added an emotional strength that characterized Mullin in his later life. He added to his scholarship the grace and ease that made him a good teacher. He was an absolutely wonderful person.²
Mullin is survived by his wife Connie, children Stephen, Keith and Laura, grandchild Alexandrea, mother Alma and brother Mark.
Memorial services were held at Scripps on Jan. 6. Donations can be made in Mullin¹s memory to the Nature Conservancy